color choice for 4x5, newbie here...

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by buggz, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. buggz

    buggz Member

    Messages:
    25
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Location:
    Ellenwood, G
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Hello,
    I don't have a strong film background/experience.
    I recently purchase a 4x5 Sinar f2 kit, as I wish to learn film while I still can.
    I am asking for recommendations for color film.
    My usage would be widely varied, from indoors, to outdoors.
    Thanks.
     
  2. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

    Messages:
    698
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2011
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Just about your only option for 4x5 color negative film is going to be Kodak Portra 400 - unless you decide to shoot slide film. Given your inexperience, though, I wouldn't recommend slide film, as it is much less forgiving and your practical applications for it may be limited. Portra is a fantastic film, though.
     
  3. fotch

    fotch Member

    Messages:
    4,820
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Location:
    SE WI- USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Another choice would be to get a roll film adapter and shoot 120 while you are learning, experimenting. More film choices. Of course, using 4x5 is always a joy. Just an idea.
     
  4. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,361
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2010
    Location:
    Mundelein, I
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Kodak Ektar 100 is still available in 4x5, isn't it?

    Duncan
     
  5. buggz

    buggz Member

    Messages:
    25
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Location:
    Ellenwood, G
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    The kit I purchased also comes with a Sinar 6x9 film holder.
     
  6. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

    Messages:
    1,572
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Location:
    Canberra, AC
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    Kodak Portra and Ektar, Fuji 160S.
     
  7. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

    Messages:
    4,906
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2011
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    First of all see what developing services are locally available to you for sheet film or convenient to use mail-order, namely e-6 for chromes or c-41 for negs. Chromes have the advantage of being conveniently viewed
    on a lightbox, so you can assess your results instantly, and are generally superior from a scanning standpoint.
    Color negs are generally less fussy from an exposure standpoint and better for skintones (not generally as good
    for crisp landscape colors). There are still plenty of excellent films out there in 4x5: Kodak E100G and Fuji Provia and Velvia in chromes; Kodak Portra 160, 400, and Ektar 100 in color neg. You'll need a good light meter too.
     
  8. buggz

    buggz Member

    Messages:
    25
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Location:
    Ellenwood, G
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Thanks for the informative replies!
    MUCH appreciated!

    Anyone have experience of the last instant type film that is still available?
    FujiFilm FP-100C45
    It seems that this requires an expensive holder just for this type film,
    FujiFilm Instant Holder PA-45
    Hmm...
     
  9. zach

    zach Member

    Messages:
    42
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2010
    Location:
    Brisbane, Qu
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Fuji 160S in 4x5 is only available in Europe right?
     
  10. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

    Messages:
    5,480
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you want to use the roll film back you will have far more choices for far less money than in sheet film. The same is even true, though to a lesser extent, in black and white.

    So we really have two questions here - whether to start with sheet film or roll film, and then which film.

    Advantages of using roll film in the roll film holder:

    1. No darkroom or changing bag needed to load and unload film - may or may not matter to you.
    2. Far lower film costs, allowing you to learn about film and the movements and use of your view camera without spending nearly as much money.
    3. Higher shot capacity. You don't say how many 4x5 film holders you have, but carrying, say, 10 holders, which hold 20 sheets of film, is fairly bulky (and also costs about $50-$60 to load with color film, give or take.) The roll film holder will give you 10 (6x7 cm) or 9 (6x9 cm) exposures per roll, and you can carry a bag full of rolls if you want and change in the field, at a cost per shot of about $0.50 versus $2.50 or more per shot in 4x5.
    4. No, or very few, dust problems. I'm assuming you've not used a view camera before so the advantage here may not be obvious but, trust me, it's a good one. I seldom have dust on my sheet film but I'm fanatical about how I load my holders, and I do it in my darkroom with the table wiped down and the HEPA air cleaner running. Especially for those who have to use a changing bag, it can be really annoying.

    So just use roll film? Well, not quite.

    Disadvantages of using the roll film back versus sheet film:

    1. Limited ability to use wide angle lenses. You don't say what lenses you have but this may be important (or not, if you aren't much into wide angles.) The widest lens I have for my view camera is a 90mm, which on 4x5 is pretty wide, roughly equivalent to a 28mm on 35mm film. In 6x7 that's a dead-normal lens, maybe just slightly wide on 6x9. There are, of course, wider lenses you can get and use, but even so, if they cover 4x5 they are often expensive and not so common, and if they don't cover 4x5 their usefulness is limited to just your RF holder. The front and rear standards are going to be pretty close together when using a wide lens, and unless you have a bag bellows the binding of the bellows can severely limit your available movements. And even if you do have a bag bellows it can mean changing the bellows when changing lenses - not a huge thing but one more thing to carry and fool with.

    2. It's really kind of, well, fiddly at best, using a camera designed for 4x5 as a medium format view camera. I got a roll film holder myself thinking to use it for color since I mainly shoot black and white in 4x5 and color is so expensive, but I use it less than I expected. Partly this is the lens issue above. But it's just harder to see what your movements are doing on the ground glass when you are using such a smaller part of it. Of course, with most medium format cameras you wouldn't even have movements.

    3. Quality - this isn't as big of a difference as it used to be because modern films are so good. It depends on your output size and media, but medium format produces superb prints of at least 16x20. You may not notice any real worthwhile difference, but all other things being equal and done correctly, 4x5 will still have the edge. The point of a big camera is a big negative!

    4. Film selection by shot: this is more important by far in black and white, because you can develop each sheet to suit the individual scene. It's less important in color but still an advantage for sheets. I'm getting to my recommendations between two films, one for bright, pretty much exaggerated colors when that's what you want and another for normal looking color and great skin tones. With roll film whatever you have loaded in the holder is what you shoot, unless you have two holders - or you can shoot an entire roll on each subject (gets expensive and otherwise unnecessary) or just wind out the rest of a partial roll (wasteful) to change. Unlike 35mm there is no practical way I'm aware of to change film mid-roll without wasting the rest of the first roll. So if you want to carry both the bright colors film (Ektar) and the normal film (Portra) and shoot whichever fits your subject, it's easy to load some holders with each and just expose as you like for each shot, or even both for the same shot to get both kinds.

    Those are my thoughts, anyway. Now on to the film.

    Assuming you want to shoot sheets some or eventually, it seems best to select a film that's available in both 120 and sheets. That way you only have one film to learn regardless of which format you use.

    Negatives or transparencies? Some people love transparencies, and they sure do look impressive on a light box. But aside from that I see little reason to shoot them these days. Exposure is a lot more critical, and output media are more limited. With Ilfochrome gone the only ways to get a print are hybrid, either via scan and inkjet or scan and lightjet or similar, or internegatives. With the availability of Lightjet I don't know anyone doing internegs commercially and not many people do them at home so that pretty much leaves hybrid. That's fine if that's what you want, but you give up nothing with modern negative films in that regard either. Or at least I have received back scans from my negatives that are just as good as those I've gotten from my transparencies. I'm not scanning myself yet so I can't really say much more. Modern C41 films are intended to be scanned but E6 may still be easier to get good scans. I have some 120 and 4x5 E6 film in my freezer wondering what I'm going to do with it now that Ilfochrome is gone. I guess I'll shoot it and output via hybrid methods, but I'm an analog photographer and that's not really my "thing." (I picked it up at a good price before the Ilfochrome announcement, intending to get back into Ilfochrome.)

    The only reason I really shoot transparencies any more is for projection, and for that I shoot 35mm.

    So my suggestion is color neg, which gives you the same hybrid output options as transparency film plus easy (well, relatively - you can do it yourself in the darkroom or hire it done some places still) optical printing.

    You don't say where you are. Fuji is good film, but in 4x5 it's almost impossible to find Fuji color neg in North America, at least without paying astronomical prices to import it yourself. So Kodak is it. Fortunately, Kodak makes not only some of the best negative film available but some of the best negative film ever available.

    You have, for practical purposes, three choices: Portra 160, Portra 400, and Ektar 100. I use the latter two.

    For striking color saturation use Ektar. For everything else, use Portra. Ektar is great for dull light to make the colors pop, but in already strong light it can be too much, but that depends on your taste in color and contrast. Portra is great film for practically everything, though I use Ektar for really bright colored landscapes and such.

    Portra 400 is superb and has finer grain than you will ever really need in either 4x5 or medium format. The extra speed is handy, as view camera lenses tend to be slow by the standards of 35mm and medium format and furthermore are usually not very good wide open (unless you're going for the shallow DOF and don't care for ultimate sharpness as in some portraits in which case they excel.) So this has all been a very long winded way of me recommending Portra 400, with maybe a bit of Ektar in your kit to play with!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2012
  11. buggz

    buggz Member

    Messages:
    25
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Location:
    Ellenwood, G
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Thanks Drew!
    I wonder if I could use the meter readings from my 5DMkII?
    I currently have it set to spot, which I have learned to use very successfully, of course using manual mode, and changing as I deem necessary.
    Though, I think this would be a good discussion for a new topic?
    I'm sure to ask this again...
     
  12. buggz

    buggz Member

    Messages:
    25
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Location:
    Ellenwood, G
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Roger,
    Wow!
    Thanks for the good read!
    Heh, I will have to read this slowly to "digest" the great information you present.
    Then I will be able to answer/ask questions you/I may have.
     
  13. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

    Messages:
    5,480
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You're welcome. I edited a bit on the comments about scanning color neg versus transparency based on Drew's comments. I've heard from some folks that E6 still scans better/easier, but I've also read others saying that isn't true. I've not scanned my own so can't really say. I've gotten good scans back from color negs, and modern C41 is designed for better scanning than older films, but E6 may still have the edge. But as folks have said, exposure is a LOT more critical so with limited film experience I'd still recommend color neg to keep from going broke and getting frustrated trying to learn what you're doing. It's not exactly difficult but will take some work and experience and film used.

    Spot on about the meter. You may be able to use a digital camera but I'd still get a handheld meter and learn how to use it. Starting out an averaging meter (that is, not a spot meter) may be better. I have a Luna Pro SBC which is a great meter and there's a 7.5 "spot" (not as narrow as a real spot) attachment. I use that for my medium format and backup for my 4x5 where I normally use a spot meter. I picked up the pair of meter and spot attachment for less than $100.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. fotch

    fotch Member

    Messages:
    4,820
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Location:
    SE WI- USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ditto on getting a seperate meter. You will use it no matter what camera or type you use. Even didital work benifits from using one.
     
  16. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

    Messages:
    1,572
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Location:
    Canberra, AC
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
  17. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You can get a lot of Fuji films from Japan Exposures, including quickloads of astia 100f and 160s.
     
  18. F/1.4

    F/1.4 Member

    Messages:
    235
    Joined:
    May 16, 2011
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'd stick to color neg too..

    Fuji 160S > pastel, awesome for skintones where you want them to be more pink

    Portra 400 > warm, awesome for skintones where you want them to be more orange

    Ektar 100 > kind of warm, awesome for pictures of things, or people in flat lighting. High saturation, contrasty, just about invisible grain unless you're shooting 135.
     
  19. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

    Messages:
    5,480
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Like I said, you can import it yourself - if you want to pay the price.

    10 sheets of 4x5 100NC - ¥8,424 - per this site that's $105.89. 160NS, same price.

    Shipping isn't as bad I'd expect though. Surface mail, 2 months transit, isn't bad at all at ¥770 or another $9.68. EMS, whatever that is, insured and trackable to North Amercica is ¥1200 or $15.

    Kodak at B&H for comparison is $26.50 for Ektar, $29.95 for Portra 400 and $32.50 for Potra 160. Those are 10 sheet boxes though so double for comparison.

    So Fuji from Japan is just about double the price of Kodak from New York. Not as crazy as I seemed to recall, but plenty expensive enough to leave me shooting Kodak.

    20 sheets Astia QL, ¥13,650 - $171.59. Hey, only about $8.50 a shot not including shipping. No thanks. I like Astia but E100G is very good film and in stock at B&H for $3.50 a shot ($34.95/10) For that price I can load the holders, and take two in case dust ruins one and still be money ahead.
     
  20. Tony-S

    Tony-S Member

    Messages:
    785
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2009
    Location:
    Fort Collins
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  21. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

    Messages:
    5,480
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks for the link. The transparency films are available many places, but not the 160. I'm more than happy with Kodak Portra 400, but it's good to have options. The coolest thing on their site for me is that they have a bigger selection at a lower price of 120 film on spools modified to work in 620 cameras. I have an old Kodak Duaflex my fiance got me for Christmas that I play around with for box camera Holga-esque fun sometimes.
     
  22. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

    Messages:
    4,906
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2011
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I just loaded my own Sinar in the truck and am going to head out in a few minutes. But a couple of other suggestions. I think it would be more difficult and less rewarding to use a roll-film back. The smaller image is much more finicky to focus and quite a few roll-film holders don't hold the
    film on a very precise plane. One might get pretty frustrated trying to sort
    out why certain images aren't in good focus. After one learns the basics,
    then you can transfer those skills if necessary to a roll-film back. And full
    4X5 film does give a much more usable neg or chrome with less issues
    with dust spots or inevitable film blemishes. If you're planning on a home
    color darkroom somewhere down the line, then color neg film makes the
    most sense, but without actually printing it, it's difficult to guage your progress. Scanning and viewing on a monitor is a pretty crude form of evaluation since 4X5 film is really meant to hold dramatically more visual
    information than you can see on a screen. Some labs can offer you both a
    contact sheet and a disc, and that might be helpful getting to first base.
     
  23. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

    Messages:
    5,480
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree with most of the rest, but less issues with dust and blemishes with sheets? You load film holders in a clean room? I have few 4x5 dust problems now but none with 120 (at least, none on the film prior to exposure - in the darkroom of course just clean the thing and make another print or learn to spot.) That was true with Quickload and Readyload but other than rapidly diminishing and expiring film via eBay or very expensive import of remaining Quickloads those aren't that practical anymore.

    I also don't have any problem evaluating a 6x6, much less 6x7 or 6x9, transparency on a lightbox with a loupe. Totally agree about negatives being hard to evaluate without printing and about the smaller ground glass image being finicky and more difficult to work with, though.
     
  24. fotch

    fotch Member

    Messages:
    4,820
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Location:
    SE WI- USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    "roll-film back. The smaller image is much more finicky to focus and quite a few roll-film holders don't hold the
    film on a very precise plane."

    I have used roll film backs in view camera for certain projects that I needed a view camera and a lower cost film, due to the volume, and never ever had a focus problem, with hundreds of shots.

    Perhaps I am just lucky to have several Graflex roll holders and view camera that everything worked perfectly the first time, every time. However, that is what the equipment is designed so if it doesn't, something else is wrong. JMHO
     
  25. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

    Messages:
    5,480
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've never had a problem focusing as such nor with film flatness with mine. But I do find the smaller image harder to work with, especially if movements are being used.
     
  26. fotch

    fotch Member

    Messages:
    4,820
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Location:
    SE WI- USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In my use I was mainly copying flat works, art, photos, etc. For restoration, a 16x20 print or larger would be made for the artist and then later re-photographed and reproduced to the original size. Other than bellows extension, no movements used. Always razor sharp.